improved visibility during nighttime and low-visibility passages.
Additional features include an engine room with 6 feet, 6 inches of headroom, single or twin power, port and starboard wing docking stations, and a large flybridge with options for a hardtop as well as a summer kitchen.
Soel Yachts (pronounced “soul”) and Naval DC have teamed up to engineer a 39-foot power catamaran. As designed, the vessel would sport a beam of 19 feet, and weigh in at just over 10,000 pounds. The autonomous, solar-electric power cat would be the very essence of “green:” A zero-emission craft to be used as a coastal-water passenger ferry for inter-island transportation, whale watching tours, and research and diving expeditions.
The SoelCat 12 will feature a large hardtop roof, topped by a massive solar panel array that will produce output power of 8.6kW, which is enough to propel the vessel to an autonomous 5-knot cruising speed. During daylight, the 485-square-foot solar panel will recharge a lithium-ion battery bank, which will provide enough capacity to give the SoelCat 12 an operating range of 50 miles at the service speed of 8 knots, or 100 miles at a speed of 6 knots.
The SoelCat 12 features a twin installation of Naval DC’s integrated 30kW solar-electric drivetrain system and can be transported all over world via two standard shipping containers.
Visit www.soelyachts.com The first U.S. Electric and Hybrid Marine Expo was wonderfully educational, though I hardly knew any of the companies involved and could only understand a fraction of some seminars.
On the other hand, I met Rufus Van Gruisen, a familiar fellow enthusiast whose flight arrived at the Fort LauderdaleHollywood International Airport at about the same time as mine. Rufus owns and operates Cay Electronics, and it turns out he’s done more than just dream about quiet, efficient, and electric pleasure-craft. He helped his son build the first eCraft Yachts 20 that appeared at the Newport International Boat Show in September 2015. It looks like an excellent design to me, and you can find more details on Facebook and in the Great Lakes Scuttlebutt. It is a pure electric dayboat that is charged at a dock or your home.
Farther-roaming vessels need some sort of hybrid propulsion, one of which is the Steyr parallel Hybrid Drive System (HDS). It won numerous awards when launched in 2008, and while it had some early clutch issues—fixed with a redesign—this is the technology behind the successful fleet of Greenline Yachts (more than 450 built). The good news (not yet online) is that a “coming soon” new HDS design will offer 20kW of pure electric drive, a big step up from 7kW powerplant currently available.
Exhibited on the show floor was a pureelectric Malibu 23 LSV wake boat, which is notable when you realize that these boats are power hungry and inefficient. LTS Marine had to power the hunky 160kW motor with two custom watercooled lithium battery banks to achieve a maximum speed of 33 knots and one hour of 20-knot autonomy before heading back to a charging station.
Her owner spent an extra $170,000 not to have gas fumes messing with his fun. Although this pure-electric Malibu may represent an impractical extreme of electric boating, LTS has proved that it can be done (with some gorgeous-looking engineering). I did get laughing about one probably unintended consequence: The lakes that don’t allow internal combustion engines and where gentle electrics like the eBoat 20 often find a home may now learn about the wild world of wakesports.
Also on display was a Symphony Conductor Six-1 gentleman’s runabout which, the builder claims, can cruise at about 20 knots fully loaded. The motor is a Torqeedo Deep Blue 80i rated at about 80 horsepower at its 66kW peak input. The juice comes from a pair of Torqeedo’s big Deep Blue 80 HV lithium batteries, which weigh 330 pounds each but hold 12.8kW hours of usable power at 345 volts.
So why the regular 12V battery? One of the many safety features built into the whole modular Deep Blue family is a careful segregation of the very high voltage parts. In fact, you can’t use those big lithium
batteries until the 12V-powered monitoring system makes sure that all the high-voltage connections and other protective sensors check out as a-okay.
Torqeedo also displayed its Deep Blue 80i electric inboard and the large HV battery pack, which comes with a 9-year warranty on 80 percent of its original capacity even if you use it every day. The company recently added a steerable electric saildrive to its line. According to reports, it can be used to generate power when sailing by selecting the amount of drag/amperage you want. The full dual-drive catamaran system comes with joystick docking.
Safety is a large and understandable concern on a boat with very-highvoltage cables and batteries capable, say, of feeding a 160kW motor at wide-open throttle. You hear some scary stories about the damage that sort of current can inflict, and several seminars also included slides showing thermal runaway. Everyone in the business of developing hybrid power systems is looking for better batteries— man, there’s a confusing subject—and also more energy-efficient ways to feed them.
The Be-Wind vertical wind turbines being shown in the Atlas Marine Systems booth is one way to feed hungry batteries. Darned if I could find anything online about this system, but an Atlas rep told me that it can handle hurricane-level winds, easily produces 1kW, and taller models can produce more. I think we’ll notice if these become popular on the megayachts Atlas works with.
Meanwhile, the Inerjy EcoVert 75kW Turbine makes for a much more ambitious boat project and while it hasn’t been built yet, you can contemplate the ideas behind the Gemma One design. The EcoVert has many uses, but it happens that Inerjy cofounder, Jamie Schlinkman, is a boater. In fact, he pointed out that they use three Maretron ultrasonic wind sensors on each turbine mast along with a CANbus control system. Schlinkman quickly acknowledged that the EcoVert vertical turbine design has a long history, but he says that only now are the enabling technologies falling into place. I believe that holds true for much of what’s happening with hybrid boats, and it’s quite exciting.
The Gemma One dream also reminded me of watching in awe as the esteemed local schooner captain and inventor Havilah Hawkins whomped around Penobscot Bay on his “windmill boat” back in the ’ 80s, sometimes dead into the wind. The power and propulsion mechanisms were entirely mechanical and possibly a bit frightening in action up close, but Capt. Hawkins certainly had the spirit, and I believe he’d enjoy at least some of what’s going on today.